There are many races where you have that signature moment when you ask: What the hell am I doing? That moment came in the very first mile of the 2015 Edaville Rail Run. A freezing twenty mile an hour wind barreled across the cranberry bogs and slammed into hundreds of runners who tucked deep into their sweat clothes. The wind was a constant obstacle at what was otherwise a flat, 5 mile trail run. But I must back up a little because the race itself was only one part of the journey.
I grew up in Massachusetts (25 years). My wife Terri and I lived there together for about three and a half years (Two years in Carver). We had good jobs and an active social life despite the weather. Terri competed in Dressage while my brother Kevin and I competed in mountain bike racing. Living with my parents was difficult, cramped into a single wide mobile home. We looked into getting a place of our own but the cost of living was just outrageous. We moved back to Florida in 2010.
Five years passed before my mother convinced me to visit. Terri couldn't make the trip so I went up alone but she insisted that I do certain things while I was there. 1. Look through my photo albums, to be reminded of where I came from. 2. Take a walk in the woods, enjoy the intoxicating scent of pine trees in Autumn. 3. Eat at Cosi. It was our favorite lunch stop. Their Turkey Stuffing Sandwich is to die for. It's funny how strongly food is connected to memories.
Number four was a big ask: Spend some quality time with the family. I've got a huge family and can't possibly see them all in one weekend. What I could do amounted to hours of coffee talk with Mom & Dad plus dinner with my sister Ginger and her husband Tim. I also got to hang out with my nephew Tyler and my niece Natalie, both great kids. That list also included hugging a bunch of animals. I followed Terri's instructions as best I could but there was one last thing to do.
|Alex and his Mom|
On Saturday morning it was time to race. Edaville is the oldest heritage railroad in the United States. Situated on a Cranberry plantation it was an active for decades before becoming a small theme park that is well known for its seasonal festivals. My first memory of Edaville was as a little kid climbing aboard the steam train during the Christmas themed Festival of Lights. Edaville can be a magical place for a kid and even more so in the future as they are rebuilding the park to include more rides. These changes will include Dino-World, a full section dedicated to Thomas the Tank Engine plus the requisite shopping village and archway entrance.
In November of 2000 Edaville created the first rail run to benefit the long standing Dorine Merritt Memorial Fund which gives money to various youth causes in the town of Carver. The route is like no other (Route Map). It is a pure trail run on flat bog roads that circle the beautiful Atwood Resevoir. This would be the very first running race for my brother Kevin who bought brand new, watermelon colored running shoes the night before. He took on the 2 mile course while I huddled my way into the 5 mile race.
The last time I tackled a race of this distance was the 2013 Shark's Tooth 10K so my expectation here was merely to finish. While 46 degrees is not so bad, it was the wind that chilled us to the bone. At the start runners hopped in place and shook their limbs to stay nimble until the blare of the horn. Unable to warm-up before the start I merely had to shuffle my way through slow miles before my muscles agreed to kick in. People stood by the sides of the bog playing Eye of the Tiger on their stereos while holding up signs. The water stops were also friendly and encouraging. The first was worked by a particularly beautiful girl with long dark hair and a great smile, that will always get the heart beating a little faster.
I was probably passed by a hundred competitors and while motivation was difficult to maintain, it gave me time to develop a plan. At the 3 mile marker it was my turn to push. I widened my strides and started counting the people I passed on the way to the finish. Twenty-five runners later I charged up the ending hill and crossed the line. My brother, mother and niece were there to greet me.
You can't beat New England in the fall. This weekend was well worth the travel. If I have two tips for anyone wishing to go they are: 1. Use T.F. Green Airport (Avoid Logan) and 2. Involve your family. These events are so much more fun when you can share them with the ones you love.
Kevin Hutchinson (2 mile) Time: 23:51 - 15th in 36+ age group, Overall 82 of 161
Alex Hutchinson (5 mile) Time: 53:28 - 28th in 40-49 age group, Overall 280 of 352